Harmonica Shah & Howard Glazer – Ain’t Gonna Worry About Tomorrow
The package was postmarked Detroit, Michigan when it arrived at the Toronto townhouse that served as Electro-Fi Records world headquarters back in early 2002. Gary Collver and I had launched the label 5 years earlier, and had enjoyed some modest success with our releases on Chicago’s Little Mack Simmons and Johnny Laws. Things had been bumped up a notch with our signing of Blues Legends Snooky Pryor and Mel Brown, along with rising star West Coast Harp Ace Mark Hummel. From today’s perspective at least, CD sales were brisk, and most days of the week, an assortment of demo and audition discs arrived in the mail from a wide variety of aspiring and established practitioners of Blues music in all it’s forms.
This particular package contained the rough mixes of a new album from Detroit Blues duo Harmonica Shah and guitarist Howard Glazer. I was aware of Shah and Howard from their previous “Deep Detroit” release. Their deep down and raw take on the Blues was right up my alley. Phone calls were made, a deal was struck, a final mix of the album was done by Alec Fraser with Howard and “Tell It To Your Landlord” was released on Electro-Fi early in 2003. Shah and Howard’s unique and spontaneous brand of Blues was well received and lead to Australian, U.S., European and Canadian festival appearances. While continuing to perform live together, Shah and Howard chose to pursue separate, successful recording careers. Howard recorded with Honeyboy Edwards and Emanuel Young. He’s been nominated for 4 Downbeat Critic’s Choice Awards: Best Blues artist (2), Rising Star and Best Blues Guitarist. Harmonica Shah has been nominated twice for Living Blues Awards in the category of Most Outstanding Musician (Harmonica). Shah has recorded with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Mel Brown and Jack de Keyzer.
One fine day last year, talk turned to the idea of Shah and Howard recording together again (at last!) in Detroit. With the kind support of studio wizard Joe Giese, and a tight core group of outstanding Motor City Blues musicians including Skeeto Valdez, this album “Ain’t Gonna Worry About Tomorrow” was cut in the pre-pandemic days of January 20, 21, 2020. The 13 tracks showcase the many talents of both Shah and Howard and the unique signature blues sound they create together. This recording reunion was a long time coming. To my ears it’s been well worth the wait. Hope you enjoy it!
1. Reallity Blues (I'm Too Old To Be Your Man) – 3:14 2. My Bottle Is My Bank Account – 4:16 3. Pretty Girl, Pretty Girl – 4:22 4. When My Wife Comes Home – 4.34 5. Dirty Bastard Blues – 4:39 6. Somebody Loan Me A Dime – 7:06 7. (I Just Wanna Be) Your Floormat – 4:41 8. Please Respect Me – 6:48 9. She Penetrates My Mind – 6:00 10. Who's Been Talking? – 3:42 11. So Many Roads – 6:02 12. First Train South – 2:41 13. Ain't Gonna Worry About Tomorrow – 6:25
Harmonica Shah (vocals, harmonica) , Howard Glazer (lead guitar) , Mike Blaszkiewicz (guitar) , Steve Glazer (bass) , Ben Moore (bass on 4) , Skeeto Valdez (drums)
1. bluesblastmagazine.com – John Mitchell - 2021.01.03
This Detroit blues duo recorded a 2003 set for Electro-Fi, Tell It To Your Landlord. Since then they have toured together as well as pursuing their separate careers; Howard Glazer has been heard on recent releases by Eliza Neals and both men have released their own albums. This disc, however, reunites them in an authentic blues setting and although Howard can play the sort of rock-blues that one associates with Eliza Neals, here his more restrained blues style suits Shah’s harp sound. There are ten originals penned by Shah and three covers. They do play as a duo on some tracks but there is a band on most: Skeeto Davis on drums, Steve Glazer on bass (with Ben Moore depping on one track), Mike Blaskiewicz on guitar, Howard on lead guitar and Shah on harp and vocals.
Shah sounds like he plays harp without using a harp mike, giving a clean sound that takes us back to country blues. He also writes some sharp-witted songs, like opener “Reality Blues” in which he realizes that he is far too old for the girl, the band playing a classic Chicago blues riff; indeed, Shah’s vocals have a touch of Muddy’s style to them. Sometimes Shah is willing to try anything to salvage a relationship, even claiming that “(I Just Wanna Be) Your Floormat”! He can also admit that he can be a bad sort, as in “Dirty Bastard Blues”: “I sleep all day, rob and steal all night, everything I tell you, sugar, you know it ain’t right, ‘cos I’m a two-faced, dirty old bastard, everything I do is dirty and no good”. Shah tries to persuade a girl to stick around and have some fun with him, which will be fine, he says, until “When My Wife Comes Home” after a weekend away, one of the duo tracks on the album. Perhaps Shah’s problems stem from the age-old problem of alcohol, as in “My Bottle Is My Bank Account”?
In “Pretty Girl, Pretty Girl” Shah seems to have met his match as a younger girl has taken him for a ride, now leaving him for a younger model. Played over a moody riff, this one is a duo performance which sounds pretty ominous! “Please Respect Me” is a classic slow blues with the full band and, again, Shah’s girl is going with a younger man behind his back. “First Train South” is an instrumental that gives Shah full rein to show off his train sounds on the harp and the CD closes with the title track, another slow blues. Several tracks run to over six minutes, giving the musicians space to stretch out in fine style.
The three covers are familiar classics but re-imagined for this particular album. Fenton Robinson’s “Somebody Loan Me A Dime” is usually played in a soul-blues style but Shah and Howard convert it into a slow blues that is virtually unrecognizable; Paul Marshall’s “So Many Roads” will be known to everyone from versions by Otis Rush (or maybe Joe Bonamassa, for younger readers!) and is further slowed down from those versions, whereas Howling Wolf’s “Who’s Been Talking?” is actually sped up a little! All three are attractive covers and successfully complete this solid album.
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